What Are The Yamas And Niyamas

Yoga helps to enhance the spiritual qualities of human beings. According to sage Patanjali, there are specific reasons why people struggle and feel pain. These are called kleshas in Sanskrit. The Yamas and Niyamas can be practiced to reduce the kleshas. 

Most of us are unable to identify the root reasons for our dissatisfaction because we are too entangled in them. Patanjali has mentioned the reasons for human suffering in the yoga sutras. They are mentioned as, not understanding reality, ego, attachments, strong dislikes, and fear of death. The Yoga Sutras, by the ancient yogi Patanjali, talk about the eight limbs of yoga

The Eight Limbs Of Yoga 

The Eight Limbs Of Yoga 

1. Yamas (social code)

2. Niyamas (individual code)

3. Asana (physical postures)

4. Pranayama (life force control) 

5. Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal)

6. Dharana (concentrateation)

7. Dhyana (meditation)

8. Samadhi (transcendental awareness)

Emotional disruptions brought on by moral flaws and mental conflicts are avoided or lessened by practicing the Yamas and Niyamas. Physical discomforts are alleviated via asana practice including pain, sickness, and uncomfortable posture. Abnormalities in the body’s pranic flow are eliminated with the practice of pranayama. 

Pratyahara involves controlling the sense organs and their reaction to the environment. The early phases are crucial because they set the practitioner’s body and mind up for the later 3 stages to reach enlightenment. 

In this blog, we will be discussing the Yamas and Niyamas which are known as the moral conduct essential to the right way of living.  

Yamas (social restraints)

These refer to vows or moral codes which apply to everyone. There are five ways to maintain social justice. The following are the five Yamas:

1. Ahimsa (non-violence): 

It means practicing non-violence not just in the physical realm but also in the thoughts and speech. If one wants to share their thoughts about something then it must be without hostile intention. One must be compassionate toward all beings, including those who are perceived as enemies. 

2. Satya (truth): 

It is best to tell the truth. Lying or trying to hide a falsehood both require a lot of mental effort. The majority of liars live in unconscious fear—that their deception will be discovered. We are on the path of finding the truth, so if we are not telling the truth about who we are and how we are living, how can we progress?

3. Asteya (non-stealing): 

It means not taking what doesn’t rightfully belong to someone and not taking more than they require. Our inability to trust that we can make what we need on our own is what drives us to steal. When we experience a feeling of “lack” in our lives, want, and greed start to surface. We start searching for anything to satisfy that “empty” feeling and frequently believe that everyone else has what we need.

4. Brahmacharya (sexual control):

It means to control our sexual urges. Sexual activity is simply necessary for the accumulation of vitality. The body loses this essential energy when the sexual act is finished. Sexual energy is no different from other types of energy. This energy may be used for spiritual or meditative experiences. 

5. Aparigraha (non-hoarding)

This says one can own things, but not get attached to them. Consider the misery that has resulted from losing or harming a sentimental item in your life. Think about the ongoing concern that you could misplace or break your belongings. Even with extreme wealth, one won’t have to worry about any anxieties if this non-attachment mindset is adopted

Also read: Yoga Sanskrit Words

Niyamas (observances)

They are more focused on the individual self-control of the challenging yogic journey. The Niyamas, like the Yamas lessen mental tensions and calm the mind so that focus is sustained. There are 5 Niyamas. They are:

1. Saucha (purity) 

By taking regular baths and consuming the purest, healthiest diet, one may maintain as pure a physique as possible. Otherwise one will be more prone to illnesses, which is a major obstacle to practicing meditation. This guideline also pertains to clearing the mind of unsettling ideas and feelings. 

2. Santosha (contentment) 

It is the capacity to bear everyday challenges without being impacted and to be happy no matter what challenges life throws at you. Life’s ups and downs lead to constant fluctuation of moods. Contentment is important. Inner contentment does not mean outward satisfaction gained from impressing others. Contentment must be attained with a deliberate effort to accept life as it comes.

3. Tapas (austerity) 

It is the practice of performing fasts or practicing silence for a few hours. This helps to build mental discipline. Willpower is required when doing yoga. It will help to force one to conduct actions against their will. 

4.Swadhyaya (self-study) 

It usually means that one should always be more conscious of the things they do and the emotions they feel. One must reflect on their responses to various circumstances and the reasons behind their happiness or unhappiness.

For example: If someone finds themselves getting upset, consider the why behind being upset. One will eventually learn how the mind functions, as a result of this ongoing self-analysis. Self-study also helps to learn more about oneself over time. 

5. Ishwara Pranidhana (self-surrender) 

It is the act of giving surrendering your actions to God, and the highest awareness. One loses their individuality ego and realizes that their actions are nothing but a manifestation of the supreme consciousness. It is our ego that causes much of our emotional and mental problems. 

Meghna Banerjee